Hotels Delivering Customers To TripAdvisor

Did you ever visit a hotel’s website and see something on their homepage that led you to say to yourself “Self, what the h.ll were they thinking about when they made that decision?”

That’s what happened today while conducting a search for a particular hotel, landed on their homepage, and noticed that little TripAdvisor owl icon displayed prominently between two of the hotel’s calls-to-action.

I clicked on the icon and guess what happened.  Your right, I was immediately transferred from the hotel’s website and delivered to the TripAdvisor page that displayed the hotel’s reviews.  Advantage TripAdvisor.

OK so your saying what’s the big deal!

One, this and every hotel that battles and pays to get prospective customers to their site lost this prospective customer in a matter of less than 10 seconds.  If the hotel spent hard-earned money and their e-Commerce team achieved their goal to get the hotel to rank in the top third of the search return then why risk this sort of “marketing strategy” that sends prospective customers to a competitor’s site?  Advantage TripAdvisor

Two, and this is even more confusing, guess what caught my attention while on the TripAdvisor site?  Your answer doesn’t count because you’ve done this before.  For those of you that haven’t I had the option to book that very same hotel, after I read their stellar reviews, with seven different OTAs.  Yes, Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking.com, Venere, Priceline, Travelocity, and Orbitz.  Advantage TripAdvisor and OTAs

Now, why would a hotel spend time and money to get me to their site then turn around and send me to a competitor’s site that could potentially cost that very same hotel eight times the transaction cost as compared to a direct booking on the hotel’s website?

Now I’m totally confused!

Tom Costello is the CEO, Partner & Co-Founder of Groups International, a company that provides marketing, consultative services, and technology solutions to the group and leisure travel markets.  Connect with him on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter or contact him by email.


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19 Comments

  1. Martin Patel
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    That’s very astute. It would be nice to have the logo without the link attached.

    • Posted August 18, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Not sure what you are referring to Martin but only assume that you’re suggesting that the TripAdvisor be a static icon and not a re-direct to the hotel’s site page? If this is correct then why not have TripAdvisor provide a pop-up window that provides only the pertinent information, say the hotel’s reviews and not all of the other garbage that is included on that website. On another note someone suggested that those who visit TripAdvisor use less that 5% of the content that is available on the site. Could that suggest that 95% of that 5% are the hotel reviews???

  2. Posted August 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very interesting. The ways of hotels leave me confused. I offer all hotels in Spain (& its islands) a FREE page on my 8 year-old, 900 page Google PR5 site with a direct html to THEIR site (which even potentially costs me commissions)

    70/75% don’t respond and probably another 10% send me a <50 words classified ad without pictures. (My offer is clearly explained with examples) If I ever follow-up, the excuses include busy, H.O. policy, did not have JPGs at hand, don't have details in English (!), we only advertise on our own site etc A mixture of lies, misunderstandings, ignorance, laziness etc

    ……and then the same hotels bitch about the OTAs commissions, lack of (contact with) customers, OTAs "stealing the customer" etc.

    Confused from Calahonda

    • Posted August 20, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Steve yes some hoteliers are sometimes if not often confusing. I understand your frustration and it is directly related to a hoteliers “manual” interaction with your product offering. Here in the states corporate management does not want a DOSM or GM to be spending time working on hotel listings, updating entries, etc. They want them to generate revenue and the processes that you are referring to are what they would consider to be counterproductive. If you had an API that would allow hotels to “channel” that data directly to your directory, you would have all of the customers in Spain that you desire. A great position to be in don’t you think?

  3. Posted August 19, 2011 at 1:08 am | Permalink | Reply

    How should reviews be posted on a hotel’s website to NOT lead potential guests away?

    Please, as a fellow Hotel Professional, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

    Thanks in advance!

    EnJoy a GRAND day 🙂 !!

    Olga Kovshanova, MBA, MA
    Sales and Guest Relations Manager for CIS, Eastern Europe & Greece
    The Grand Mauritian Resort & Spa

    • Posted August 19, 2011 at 1:39 am | Permalink | Reply

      Olga here is a link to a prototype of the pop up window that TripAdvisor should provide hotels as opposed to sending prospective customers off of the hotel’s homepage/website to TripAdvisor. Let me know what you think.

      • Posted August 21, 2011 at 7:26 am | Permalink

        Sad that it’s only a “prototype” 😦 !

        Suppose the way to have the TripAdvisor positive reviews on a hotel’s is simple to copy and past the positive reviews on the hotel’s website, Yes?

      • Posted August 21, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        Olga, most hoteliers take the good with the bad. I would suggest that you be careful in only supplying your prospective customers with good reviews. Leaving out the negative reviews could come back to haunt your hotel.

  4. stephen
    Posted August 20, 2011 at 4:35 am | Permalink | Reply

    Very good comment.
    When it was suggested to put the trip-advisor icon on our site Ii must confess i laughed at the idea of such a thing!

    Having someone search out your site and then to direct them away to me sounds crazy.However i also understand people want to get positive feedback across about their product, its a shame Trip-advisor are not more enlightened 🙂

    The comment made earlier about having a pop up page with reviews just relevant to your hotel strike me as being sound in principle and if i had to pay per click for that i dont think i would complain as the reviews without the booking engines are a useful tool.
    booking.com Europe also now play the icon game they offer you reduced commission rates if you put their new booking icon on your face-book page. I see this and trip-advisors approach as being far from friendly towards the hotels and only good for their bottom lines.

    • Posted August 20, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Great comment Stephen and there is no question about the value of reviews but there must be a way where the customer stays on your site to read those reviews and not be transferred off of the site. Makes sense for your hotel but TripAdvisor must have another agenda. I will send them a note about this to see if we can get a response from them.

  5. Posted August 24, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We are a small (5 room) bed and breakfast and have used trip advisor to our benefit. First, we have had numerous guests state the reason they booked with us was because of the reviews. Second, we do NOT send people from our website to trip advisor. Instead, AFTER they stay with us, we send an auto-response email thanking them for staying with us and, if they are so inclined to provide comments, to do so and we include the trip advisor link that takes them directly to our site. We have found this works well for us and doesn’t interfere with making reservations since they don’t get the link until after their stay.

    • Posted August 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Randy,

      Great comment and yes your strategy for using TripAdvisor to your benefit should be followed by other hoteliers whether they be full service, limited service or B&Bs. I checked out your guest reviews on TripAdvisor and it appears that you go above and beyond to serve your guests and provide “authenticity and rustic serenity”. Keep doing what you’re doing because it works well for both you and your guests!

      • Posted August 25, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        I appreciate your remarks, thanks! I read some other comments above and will close with this: we selected tripadvisor as our primary ‘comment’ site as we are able to respond to a guest comment but cannot ‘edit’ it. What we like is that potential guests read ‘real’ comments from guests, unaltered and unedited by us, giving them the ability to choose us or not.

        Thanks, again!

  6. Posted September 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    good stuff. Also… the Tripadvisor badge on your site actually gives TA an inbound link, and hurts your SEO overall.

    http://www.thatagency.com/design-studio-blog/2010/03/why-hotels-should-stop-using-tripadvisors-rating-widget/

    good stuff.

    BUT… you could say this simple fact:

    They are going to Tripadvisor anyway.. if you optimize the listing with new photos, and respond to reviews… YOU WILL NOT LOSE THEM TO AN OTA. If you sponsor the listing, if they choose to book off TA, they will potentially be transferred back to your website booking engine.

    Also… a guest savvy enough to use Tripadvisor is also savvy enough is savvy enough to know best rates are always on the hotel’s booking engine vs OTA’s. If a hotel doesn’t have the best rates on their brand site, they get what is coming to them. =)

    Basically… if your hotel stinks, your hotel is going to lose people upon reading your reviews… whether you send them to Tripadvisor or not. For those applying the link and badge to their site, one would hope these hotels know that their tripadvisor listing is sponsored, optimized, and that they respond to reviews and all reviews are decent. It’s part and parcel to the greater scope of simply being a good business.

    In the end, I think you have to assume people are going to read those reviews, and it’s good business to be confident enough to share them with people, and be transparent and helpful.

    However, if you are insecure about losing a guest once they start reading your reviews (this is a dodgy area, but they gave Revinate a green light to do this) – copy the reviews from tripadvisor onto a review page on your website. Don’t change a thing, be honest and ethical…. but that way you have reviews available for people to read, while keeping them on your site, and increasing your overall SEO. My two cents! =)

    MH

  7. Posted September 8, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Amazing how many reasons there are not to link to TA, yet it’s still done by some of the top hotels and hotel chains.

    • Posted September 8, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I completely agree with you Rick and it amazes me that a hotel rating is deemed more important by the hotel than the conversion they lost because the link back sent the viewer to an OTA booking opportunity!

  8. Posted September 8, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thought this might be useful to the tech-minded too. This guys post on hacking TA’s widgets http://tech.t9i.in/2010/08/beating-tripadvisor-seo/

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